Kincar’s grandfather, the warlord of their Gorthian clan, is on his deathbed. Kincar assumes that he and his half-brother will soon be forced to contend for leadership of the clan but, before he dies, his grandfather informs Kincar that Kincar’s father was a Star Lord, one of the mighty (human) race who can travel to other worlds. Encouraged by his grandfather, accompanied by his trusty animal companion (a bird of prey), and armed with a handy magical amulet, Kincar leaves his Gorthian family to join his father’s people.
When he meets the Star Lords, they explain that they have had too much influence on Gorth, causing it to develop faster than it naturally would have. They will now use a gate to travel to a parallel Gorth which they hope will be uninhabited by humanoid species.
But things go awry and they end up in an alternate Gorth where, Kincar is surprised to discover, people are afraid of them. In this universe, the Star Lords have used their secret knowledge and technologies to rule that world brutally. In fact, one of these brutal warriors is the alternate version of Kincar’s father, a man he didn’t know on his own version of Gorth. To defeat the evil Star Lords who have enslaved the Gorthians in this universe, Kincar will have to defeat his own father.
I suspect that I would have loved Star Gate (1958) if I had read it when I was a teenager. The idea of meeting a different version of myself in an alternate universe would probably have blown my young mind. Unfortunately, as a middle-aged adult who’s read hundreds of science fiction novels, I struggled to connect with Star Gate. It takes a while to get going, Andre Norton’s writing style here is somewhat stilted and formal, there’s far too much dialogue in many scenes, the magic (e.g., of the gates and the amulet) is dreadfully hand-wavey and, frankly, I just didn’t think it was that interesting. However, Norton deserves credit for her innovative concept (for 1958).
Star Gate has been printed with Sea Siege, another stand-alone novel (and one that I liked better than Star Gate), in From the Sea to the Stars which was published in print by Baen in 2009 and in audio format by Tantor Media in April 2021. Tantor’s audio’s edition is very nicely narrated by Stephen Borne.